Dan Flavin, the minimalist artist best known for his work with fluorescent light, is quoted with saying that "light" is "as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find." In many ways dance is also as plain and direct an art as you can find. Whatever meaning the choreographer may have intended, in the end it is purely visceral. The viewer is watching bodies move, just like watching a light glow.
Last night, CORE Performance Company performed a piece inspired by Flavin's work inside the Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall. The piece, titled above and below, was choreographed by CORE's Artistic Director, Sue Schrodeder, and featured nine dancers who became a living component of the Flavin installation.
The dancers entered the room from either side of the space, moving slowly. Both men and women were dressed in varying pastels with seemingly random white thick elastic bands tied around their legs and mid-sections. If you can picture a dystopian insane asylum, you can get a mental image.
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The dancers paced back and forth, some with purpose, others without apparent meaning, but all of their faces were completely blank. Eventually their movements took them straight into the crowd, which was both uncomfortable and thrilling. I imagine no amount of rehearsals could prepare them for a crowded room of people who hadn't been clued in ahead of time.
Aside from accidentally bumping into audience members, the dancers found themselves purposefully colliding with each other. Their movements were small; they tried to find nooks and crannies in each other's bodies to fit into. Pink tried to fit in with blue and then blue with orange, just as Flavin's electrified colors do in the space around them.
As large and commanding as this space is, the dancers' movements were small, dare I say "minimalist." Colors and bodies briefly made the museum guests stop and think about how effective the smallest things can be and how impactful they are on your life. Flavin would have been proud.